By: Sam Donsig
This Sunday, we saw the shortest race in Formula 1 history since Australia 1994. I didn’t think it should have been considered a race because of two reasons. One being, there was no overtaking allowed. Number two being, they only completed two full laps before the FIA red-flagged the race. Nevertheless, the weekend still had its moments. Here’s my list of the things we learned from Belgium this past weekend.
George Russell proved his worth to Mercedes
After this weekend’s crazy qualifying, that saw George Russell take a Williams car, yes a Williams car to the front row. It’s sufficient to say that he proved to everyone that he deserves the Mercedes seat next year over Valtteri Bottas. Over the season, we have seen Russell develop a ton and mature into a well-balanced racing driver. As well, he’s had some high-placed finishes throughout the season. Like when he scored his first points in Hungary just before the summer break. While Valtteri has done quite well this season, machinery must be included in this equation. He has the best car on the grid and still can’t beat Max Verstappen or his teammate. In comparison, George Russell out-qualified both Mercedes in the rain in a Williams. Let that sink in for a minute.
The FIA needs to start listening to drivers
It’s time for the FIA to start listening to drivers about on-track safety. For the entirety of their existence, the FIA has relied on race stewards to decide when it is safe and unsafe to race on the track. It makes sense, the stewards are there because they have a certain level of knowledge or expertise in the subject area. However on Saturday, we saw that the stewards were too late on the call. During the start of the third qualifying session, the rain was coming down quite heavily. Lando Norris had a massive shunt at the famous eau-rouge & radillion corner. Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel, the lap before the enormous crash. Called to his team to have the session red-flagged. His engineer said “copy.” That was the end of it. After Norris’ massive crash, Vettel was obviously upset.
“What the f*** did I say, what did I say, red flag,” Vettel’s radio call to his race engineer.
There was no visibility on track for the drivers, and the track was filled with tons of water. It’s time for the drivers to band together and clarify that their voices need to be heard. The solution to the issue is, if more than 50 per cent of the drivers decide it’s unfit to drive. Then the practice, qualifying or race session will be stopped until it is safe to race. As the drivers know best, they are the ones on the track.
The FIA doesn’t know its rule book
One other major thing that we learned from Sunday’s disastrous Belgium Grand Prix. That the FIA doesn’t know its rule book. The FIA had to clarify with themselves whether the Belgium Grand Prix had begun. As before the race had begun, as drivers were making their way to the grid. Sergio Perez crashed out, and the Red Bull mechanics once again had their hands full. Because of a delay, Christian Horner and the Red Bull team were trying their best to fix Sergio Perez’s car to get it running. Michael Masi had to clarify with the stewards on whether the Grand Prix had “begun” to decide whether they could fix Perez’s car. Perez’s car ended up getting the go-ahead. Perez did race around Spa-Francorchamps for all two laps. That wasn’t the only instance from Sunday when the FIA forgot their own rules. They also weren’t sure if the timer for the Grand Prix had started and whether it was two or three hours. As based on the FIA sporting regulations article 5.4, part b states that if the race is to be suspended the suspension will be added onto this period. Which can no longer be a total maximum race of three hours. Therefore, when they did go racing which was 6:17 local time, 12:17 ET the three hours had technically expired. However, they only did two laps. Regardless, you would think that the FIA would know their own rules that they wrote.
Max Verstappen proved he is a wet weather master
On Saturday, Max proved that he is a master of controlling his car in the wet. We’ve seen him repeatedly go out on track and magically find grip out of nowhere. Brazil 2016 is one example, along with Imola earlier this year. However, this past weekend at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Verstappen was on another level, as he was able to masterfully control his car to take pole position with a lapped time of 1:59.76. That pole position ultimately led him to victory on Sunday, as the race was run with strict conditions. So naturally, Verstappen was glad to be in first place, which helped reduce the points gap to his rival Sir Lewis Hamilton. Overall, everyone did a good job controlling their cars, but Max Verstappen proved that he had just a bit more control than anyone else.
Daniel Ricciardo proved he can be a good number two driver
During the first half of the season, Lando Norris was carrying the weight of McLaren on his back. As in all the qualifying and race sessions at each track, he was the lead car of the two. However, in the first race back at the Circuit Spa-Francorchamps. Daniel Ricciardo stepped up in a big way. He qualified fourth on Saturday and helped McLaren secure some significant points on Sunday in their fight against Ferrari. It was unfortunate circumstances for Lando Norris, who crashed out in Q3 and didn’t score any points. Nevertheless, Ricciardo stepped up in a big way which is why I consider him to be in midseason form. He is now finally getting a good understanding and control of the car and pushing the limits.
Well, hopefully next week’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort will be less rainy, and we can have a whole length race. As it is the home Grand Prix of Max Verstappen, I am sure he will want to extend his win streak to retake the lead from Lewis Hamilton.